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I spent the first three days of December in Alexandria, Virginia, with Montessori teacher educators from around the world discussing how to improve our courses and better assess our students at the first annual symposium sponsored by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) and the International Association of Montessori Educators (IAME). Many interesting questions came to the fore.

Central question of the heart

One of my personal favorites was “How does one assess qualities of heart”? This is a great question because it takes us to one of the most important issues in Montessori education, what Montessori called the spiritual preparation of the teacher. To be present for the children and to give them all that the beautifully prepared environment can hold requires us to dig deep within ourselves. We have to be patient and refrain from anger when the children don’t do what we want them to do when we want them to do it. (As all parents and early childhood educators know, this happens quite regularly!)

We want to cultivate the awe and wonder of what we do see every day—children spontaneously showing interest, concentrating and growing in ways we may not have expected. We want to cultivate joy and simple kindness in our homes and classrooms. We want to deepen our understanding of child development and how to help all children reach their own individual potential.

Becoming a Montessori teacher is a tall order. Preparing and mentoring adults who feel a calling to make Montessori a career is a calling as well. To figure out how to assess their preparation made for some interesting conversation. One of the best answers we could give was, “We know it when we see it.”

It was very inspiring and joyful to be among peers for several days. One of the great moments of this symposium was an evening honoring a number of folks who have committed their lives to training Montessori teachers.

Here is this august body of Montessori educators being honored for the Wisdom of the Elders, flanked by MACTE Executive Director Rebecca Pelton on the left and IAME President Floyd Creech on the right.

In the back row from left to right: Charles Terranova, Harvey Hallenberg, Lavonne Plambeck, Sanford Jones, Cheryl Sweet, Gary Davidson, Celma Perry and Desmond Perry.

In the front row from left to right:  Rebecca Pelton, Feland Meadows, Patricia Feltin , Ceres Shroer-York, Sandi McDonald-West, Paul Czaja, Eileen Buermann and Floyd Creech.

Dr. Feland Meadows and Mary Ellen Maunz, M.Ed.Mary Ellen and long-time friend,
Colleague and recognized Elder, Dr. Feland Meadows

Truth be told

Okay, there was a lot of work to be done in intense discussions, but there was also fun to be had. Being so close to our national capitol, I took in a little history—the real deal and cinematic. For the real deal I went to the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria. In conjunction with reading a fascinating and insightful biography of him by Joseph E. Ellis, His Excellency, I was re-inspired with the spirit of the man who was our first president and truly the father of this country.  He among his peers fought for the freedoms that Montessori gives anew to every child fortunate enough to have a Montessori education around the world.

Then for fun I went by the International Spy Museum, actually full of exhibits of real-life spies in the history of our nation and many nations around the world. They also had a very cool exhibit of James Bond paraphernalia, including this Aston-Martin featured in some of the earlier Bond films. Thought you might enjoy seeing it!

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